Monday, June 04, 2012

How the world of film is questioning issues within digital media

Ridley Scott's much expected mega-cinematic release confirms if we did not know already our pursuance of that horizon called self and identity. A journey that repositions that perennial question, "who we are" and "what are we doing?".

Hollywood has often been a metronome, as well as echo of the social realm for how we feel in society. Film Noir, in the 1950s was the legacy of war and the fear of the enemy amongst us.

The 60s was liberation, the Paris Riots and the spirit of youthfulness in the Graduate (1967).... fast forward to the 90s and the flux of digital and analogue following a period of 80s excess.

And now, Tree of Life (2011), Inception (2010), , 21 Grams (2003), and Prometheus brings us back to what's there but cannot be easily seen, an era of self-questioning and consciousness.

Who are you, twitter might help you confirm. How do you see yourself, Facebook provides the illusion, but it's only that  - a simulacrum.

Who are you?
The renewed interest in Heidegger (Time and Being); Deluze et al,  is further testimony. Yes, Prometheus could be seen as nothing more than a solid film, but without a plot that cuts to the heart of our deeper emotions e.g. fears, angers and angst - the zeitgeist - it would not resonate so much.

And given what the film world has next planned inplementing psycho-responses courtesy of the sensum to measure in real time how you feel, technology, Baudrillard would be horrified to know is now mining our feelings.

Getting access to implicit meaning, (existentialism) that unwittingly drives us, could me more valuable than anything we've known so far.

And then the echo effect. A movie captures a message and then amplifies it so often it becomes popular culture.  When fictional Wall Streeter Gordon Gekko emerged from jail, 23 years later, despite the fact he couldn't shake of his greed, its director, Stone would wish human value should in the end triumph.

But there's something else more intriguing to observe than the quickening of pace the digital era has wrought, which has its mirror in the media.

The men behind the big busters are children of pre-digital generations. In Ridley's case post-WWII.

There's an interesting theory in this which emerged from a BBC radio feedback programme, in which editors were questioned why they took various choices to feature in controversial programmes e.g. a troubled teenager at home, and broadcasting live from an abortion clinic.

Their response was measured, if not, overall, at times not convincing. Being in an institution allows one to gain varied knowledge, including how to gauge the "middle-bell curve" audience in say taste and decency.

But the entrepreneurial spirit of the digital age, while I am myself an aficionado, runs the risk that outside of the institutions of ingrained knowledge, the individual unwittingly forfeits powerful debates which would help shape her.

That's one reason why we will continue to go into a building, with many others to study, or watch a film with friends. It's collective knowledge sharing.

Scott, the sage, alludes to that within the institution of film, yet while being outside a knowledge institution has its draw backs, what we're not seeing is the sort of bold themes in broadcasting that are addressing the very issues being projected in cinema.

Shame that. Perhaps it's time for the old guard to shake of the race for the next new thing and look at what they do best and some.

David interviewing former head of the CIA on

Author David Dunkley Gyimah is an international award winning journalism innovator, publisher of, a  trainer and ethnographer who's PhD research involves cognition and social effects in storytelling. He trained at the BBC and has worked for some of the world's leading news agencies and consulted for various international clients. He can be contacted at